Access the Course: The Yoga of Heartfulness 4-Week Course • Ram Dass
In this culture, part of our “somebody training” includes learning to turn experiences and entities into objects: people, time, animals, plants, etc. This often results in us feeling isolated and alone, hurried and deficient. It also allows us to see “things” as resources that can be extracted for our use instead of seeing a “thing” as an inherent life with its history, needs, and desires.
When we serve from the heart, we begin to recognize our interconnectedness, and these “objects” turn back into living, breathing sources of life energy - part of an intricate whole.
Today, sit with something you typically see as an object (a plant, an animal, a stranger, a river, a building, a chair, etc.) and think about its whole life history. All of the things it has gone through. Any of its imagined desires (even a rock may have desires.)
Does it open you to more heart? To more compassion? To a greater sense of interconnectedness? To more care? What else? Anxiety? Obligation? Guilt? Fear?
Share an insight or two from doing this practice.
I followed the life of one of my favorite coffee mugs, from raw clay and earth to manufacturing to sitting in a stock room to shipping to living with me. Never have paid much mind to the life history of inanimate objects (even beloved ones) outside of their immediate relationship to me, and I’ve got to say this is bringing a new level of awareness to the table. Makes me feel surrounded by strangers I’ve never taken the time to meet. Even looking outside and following the history of the tree outside my window, a rather large pine that must have overlooked quite a few generations of people moving in and out of my building, I am taken outside myself and feel more compassion and understanding toward something I don’t normally think much about.
Though now I can’t help but imagine this tree having to watch its community getting chopped down to make room for this building and the accompanying parking lot… and I find myself wanting to escape those guilty feelings by projecting an attitude of willing service onto the fallen trees, as if they’d want nothing more than to be useful to us. A dangerous game to play, no doubt! Wish I could just ask them
“The minute you gave up your specialness, you are part of all things. Then you’re in harmony, you’re in the Tao, you’re in the way of things, you’re in the moment. But you’re not anybody anymore, you’re just part of it.”
How scary and freeing.
“The Tao of Equus” by Linda Kohanov returned me not only to the spirit of horses but to the spirit of experiences. And in that it gave me freedom to only look at the world as interconnectedness, a web of holy inclusion. And as I practice this always it has given space to recognize my intersectionality of the world and the impact of my blissful ignorance to the concept of separateness anymore. To sit out in the world and watch the shrubs wave as a biker rides past, or the way my tires wear the road & vice versa.
One of my cats, who right now is older and emotionally needy, plus has what amounts to an eating disorder. Thinking about how she was on the street when very young, and spent time in a Humane Society shelter before I adopted her. What experiences did she have? Probably some difficult times. Then, an illness about five summers ago that left her a little bit off balance. Her security here. But all that she has been through makes me more understanding of why she might be so needy emotionally. Helps me be more patient and compassionate. This was a good exercise.
Oooohhhh this is a good one. What fun!
Our family has a tiny truck camper we bought from another couple who had grown out of it. It’s a very old 1980s one that is still very much in the exact condition as before.
Initially when we first got it, I thought, oh jeez this is ugly, I can’t wait to renovate it.
But now after doing this practice, this camper is so beautiful in all its 1980s glory. I imagine everywhere that it’s been and the people it’s sheltered. The coffee it’s smelled and the meals it’s cooked. The rain it’s heard and heat it’s bared.
Now it’s in our hands to continue this guys journey and take it to new place and bring our wild children into it to be climbed on and played in. Maybe something it’s never seen before!
I like to think he loves babysitting my kids and entertaining them with the simplicity of itself.
I find this practice helpful in opening my heart and listening to the stories of the environment and those around me. Resists the urge to react. I find practice more easy, and helpful, with people than with objects; building compassion, limiting othering, and opening myself to narratives and stories that are not always apparent. Enabling healthy, dynamic, open connections to occur.